The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Johnson County jail website experiences software problems

The inmate record feature for the website was offline for weeks due to new software, and still contains errors.
Sara Stumpff
A gavel is seen before a Johnson County Board of Supervisors meeting at the Johnson County Administration Building in Iowa City on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023.

The Johnson County Jail roster website, a public website that keeps a record of all current inmates in the jail, is back online after being down for over a month due to a software change. However, certain features and information remain missing.

The jail roster website communicates points of contact and pertinent statistics and records, including the Iowa sex offender registry and a list of inmates currently held by the jail.

County Sheriff Brad Kunkel said the jail switched to a new software in late February, called JailTracker, a program designed for use in correctional facilities. Kunkel said JailTracker is not connecting to the website in the same way that the old software did.

He said the software the jail previously used was outdated and had been in use since before he started serving as sheriff in 2021. He said the update to JailTracker was a necessary change.

“Clearly people like it as a resource, and it is frustrating to have it down. I know we want it to be back up as much as anyone else,” Kunkel said.

Bill Horning, the IT director for Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, wrote in an email to the DI that the jail previously used a 15-year-old software called TAC.10 Jail Global Systems. He said the original software developer was bought in 2009 and has no intention of updating the program.

Amid the software transition process, Horning said the IT department ran into problems with the photos on the roster and eventually discovered that records were incorrectly reflected by the new software.

Horning said the process consisted of matching data from the old system and finding the correct place for it to be linked on the site with the new software. Horning wrote that the IT department is working to update the website’s code, which was created when the site was originally launched 15 years ago.

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The roster section of the website went online on Tuesday but with less information than before the software change was made. Consistent with what Horning reported, there are no inmate pictures. Large amounts of information, such as criminal charges for some inmates, are also missing from the roster.

Horning stated that this was part of the process to get the site running at full capacity and that his department remains hard at work to make the site fully operational.

In an email to the DI, Randy Evans, executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, which advocates for government transparency and citizen accountability, wrote there is no legal requirement for organizations like the Johnson County Jail to keep the site updated.

However, government transparency, in this case on the jail’s behalf, is good for government responsibility, Evans stated.

“After the public has become accustomed to going to the website to find certain types of information, then I think jail administrators have a duty to keep the public informed,” Evans wrote.

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About the Contributor
Sara Stumpff
Sara Stumpff, Photojournalist
Sara is a third year UI student who transfered from Kirkwood. She is a "non traditional" student who will hopefully obtain her BFA in Photography and BA in Spanish.